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Next in Australia's Battle Against Cane Toads: Meat Ants. What Could Go Wrong?

Ah, Australians. First they introduced cane toads to hunt the greyback cane beetle pests - but the toads turned out to be a much bigger pest and their toxic kill many native predators and farm animals.

Now, there's a proposal to control the cane toad population by introducing yet another species to battle it: meat-eating ants.

Omnivorous meat ants are native to Australia and reportedly nests in groups of more than 60,000. Professor Rick Shine said that meat ants attack and eat toads. "The ants are moving through these open areas, scavenging for dead insects and so on. If they encounter a baby toads it obviously seems like an appropriate lunch and jump on it. "

What could go wrong? Link [National Geographic Video]


Skinner: Well, I was wrong. The lizards are a godsend.
Lisa: But isn't that a bit short-sighted? What happens when we're
overrun by lizards?
Skinner: No problem. We simply release wave after wave of Chinese
needle snakes. They'll wipe out the lizards.
Lisa: But aren't the snakes even worse?
Skinner: Yes, but we're prepared for that. We've lined up a fabulous
type of gorilla that thrives on snake meat.
Lisa: But then we're stuck with gorillas!
Skinner: No, that's the beautiful part. When wintertime rolls around,
the gorillas simply freeze to death.
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That the ants are eating toads is not a matter of human intervention. It is not a gov't sponsored control effort. It is just nature.

When a new species is introduced to an area, it can often make an easy living. Organisms that are not a problem in the area in which they evolved can overrun the natives when they find themselves in new locations. They have an easy time of it, squeeze out native species, and breed like crazy.

Eventually however, the presence of these invaders who become so plentiful becomes an opportunity for another species, one that preys on the invader. The predator might itself be an introduced species, or it might be an existing organism that has adapted and stepped up to the task/free lunch offered by the invasive species.

Yes, over time, these things have a way of working themselves out. But the span of time required can be longer that is convenient for human activities. And certainly much diversity is lost along the way.

Humans have been responsible for the introduction of so many organisms into new locations. Sometimes it is intentional, like the cane toads. Sometimes introductions are a by-product of other activities such as Eurasian plants brought to the Americas as seed in animal fodder or larval stages of marine organisms in ballast tanks.

In most cases, we've lost diversity, a lot of diversity. The case of the cane toads is a rare one in that people pay attention to it. They don't so much notice the difference in the assemblage of weeds in roadside ditches, or the loss of native bee species.

It's a pity. Sadly it is rather inevitable.
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That's a joke right? Where is the link to the article? I grew up in Australia & remember when I was a child that catching & freezing cane toads was all the rage.
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i live in Australia and meat ants are native but till recently people have not noticed that they are eating the toads...oh and meat rule cause they are agressive lil buggas and attack the shit out of anything that comes near them
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